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Analysts Bet on Lafarge, Forte Oil, Others for High Returns

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  • Analysts Bet on Lafarge, Forte Oil, Others for High Returns

Investors looking for high returns on investment should include Lafarge Africa, Forte Oil and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc in their portfolios, investment analysts have said.

Investment advisory reports by Afrinvest Securities and GTI Securities-two leading investment and stock broking firms, said Lafarge Africa, Forte Oil and Julius Berger Nigeria have potential for high returns in the period ahead.

Afrinvest Securities, which placed a buy ticker on Lafarge Africa, said the cement company has an upside potential of 42.4 per cent, a direct reference to extent of capital gain that could accrue to investors in the company.

According to Afrinvest, recent debt restructuring, energy source diversification and Nigeria price action remain positive drivers of forward earnings for Lafarge Africa.

Analysts noted that Lafarge Africa’s last audited report comfortably outperformed analysts’ estimates on key earnings metrics pointing out that earnings had also stayed resilient in 2017.

Lafarge Africa grew sales by 55.1 per cent and reversed its negative bottom-line with a pre-tax profit of N9.45 billion in the first quarter of 2017 as the cement company ramped up the use of alternative and logistics efficiency to drive growth.

Key extracts of the interim report and accounts of Lafarge Africa for the three-month ended March 31, 2017 showed that sales rose to N81.31 billion in first quarter 2017 as against N52.42 billion recorded in comparable period of 2016. Gross profit jumped by 168.5 per cent from N7.78 billion in first quarter 2016 to N20.89 billion in first quarter 2017.

Compared with pre-tax loss of N2.22 billion in first quarter 2016, the cement company recorded a pre-tax profit of N9.45 billion within the first three months of 2017. Profit after tax also improved significantly to N5.16 billion in first quarter 2017 compared with net loss of N1.87 billion in corresponding period of 2016. Earnings per share thus reversed from a loss of 19 kobo in 2016 to a positive of 92 kobo in 2017.

The report also showed improvement in the balance sheet of the cement group. Total assets rose to N523.76 billion by March 2017 from N502.49 billion recorded by the period ended December 31, 2016. The balance sheet growth was driven by improvements in both fixed and current assets. Total equity funds also increased from N248.95 billion by December 2016 to N263.38 billion by March 2017.

Another investment advisory report by GTI Securities highlighted Forte Oil and Julius Berger Nigeria as two of the best stocks for investors looking for high returns within a 12-month period.

According to the report, Forte Oil has potential to generate capital appreciation of about 250 per cent with an expected target price of N170.41 by the end of the period as against its current price at the stock market.

The report also indicated that Julius Berger Nigeria could post a return of about 117.80 per cent within the period as the share price of the construction firm is expected to rise from its current level to close the period at about N70.

Analysts noted that the 414 megawatts Geregu Power Plant of Forte Oil has started to contribute significantly to the group’s top-line as power generation contribution to revenue increased by 118.61 per cent year-on-year and accounted for 19.79 per cent of total revenue in first quarter of 2017 compared to 8.39 per cent of total revenue in comparable period of 2016.

Forte Oil has 51 per cent stake in a 414 megawatts gas-fired independent power plant, which is selling power to the Nigerian power grid on a guaranteed basis.

“This trend is expected to continue with the power generation business further boosting revenue growth especially with the present drive by the government to ensure that power generation in the country increases. Forte Oil also has the capacity to push higher fuel and lubricants volume sales through its recent retail outlet expansion financed through its issued bonds,” GTI Securities stated.

The report noted that Julius Berger Nigeria has a huge public sector portfolio which includes several high-profile projects including permanent site of the National Institute for Legislative Studies, Abuja, new residences for presiding officers of the National Assembly, Abuja; rehabilitation and extension of Airport Expressway, Abuja; rehabilitation of Badia Roads, Lagos; Lagos–Badagry Expressway, Lagos and Lagos–Ibadan Dual Carriageway, Section 1, Lagos–Shagamu among others.

“We expect that with the focus of the government on infrastructure development a lot of the allotted N1.8 trillion, 30 per cent of the total budget for 2016, will go to ongoing projects across the country.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slide on China Demand Concerns, Brent Falls to $83.73

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Oil prices declined on Tuesday for the third consecutive day on growing concerns over a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on global oil demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dipped by $1.12, or 1.3% at $83.73 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $1.15, or 1.4%, to close at $80.76.

The dip in oil prices is largely attributed to disappointing economic data from China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Official figures revealed a 4.7% growth in China’s GDP for the April-June period, the slowest since the first quarter of 2023, and below the forecasted 5.1% growth expected in a Reuters poll.

This slowdown was compounded by a protracted property downturn and widespread job insecurity, which have dampened fuel demand and led many Chinese refineries to cut back on production.

“Weaker economic data continues to flow from China as continued government support programs have been disappointing,” said Dennis Kissler, Senior Vice President of Trading at BOK Financial. “Many of China’s refineries are cutting back on weaker fuel demand.”

Despite the bearish sentiment from China, there is a growing consensus among market participants that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin cutting its key interest rates as soon as September.

This speculation has helped stem the decline in oil prices, as lower interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing, potentially boosting economic activity and oil demand.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted on Monday that the three U.S. inflation readings over the second quarter “add somewhat to confidence” that the pace of price increases is returning to the central bank’s target in a sustainable fashion.

This has led market participants to believe that a turn to interest rate cuts may be imminent.

Also, U.S. crude oil inventories provided a silver lining for the oil market. According to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures, U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels last week.

This was a much steeper drop than the 33,000 barrels decline that was anticipated, indicating strong domestic demand.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also weighed in, suggesting that while the global economy is set for modest growth over the next two years, risks remain.

The IMF noted cooling activity in the U.S., a bottoming-out in Europe, and stronger consumption and exports for China as key factors in the global economic landscape.

In summary, while oil prices are currently pressured by concerns over China’s economic slowdown, the potential for U.S. interest rate cuts and stronger domestic demand for crude are providing some support.

Market watchers will continue to monitor economic indicators and inventory levels closely as they gauge the future direction of oil prices.

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OPEC+ Production Cuts Set to Balance Global Oil Market, Says Russian Deputy PM

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In a statement on Monday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak expressed confidence that the global oil market will achieve balance in the second half of 2024, thanks to the production cut strategies implemented by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+.

OPEC+, which includes major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, has been actively managing oil output to stabilize the market since late 2022.

In their most recent meeting on June 2, the group agreed to extend their latest production cut of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of September. This cut is scheduled to be gradually phased out starting in October.

“The market will always be balanced thanks to our actions,” Novak stated, emphasizing the importance of the coordinated efforts by OPEC+ in maintaining market equilibrium.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that global oil demand will surpass supply by approximately 750,000 bpd in the latter half of 2024 due to the continued reduction in OPEC+ output.

This outlook was echoed in a report by OPEC last week, which highlighted an anticipated oil supply deficit in the coming months and into 2025.

Novak’s remarks come at a crucial time for the global oil market, which has experienced significant volatility over the past year.

The OPEC+ alliance has been pivotal in mitigating some of this instability by adjusting production levels in response to fluctuating demand and other market dynamics.

Analysts suggest that the measures taken by OPEC+ will play a vital role in ensuring that the oil market remains stable as the world continues to navigate economic uncertainties and fluctuating energy demands.

The production cuts are expected to support oil prices by limiting supply, thereby helping to balance the market.

The impact of these production cuts is already being felt, with oil prices showing signs of stabilization.

However, the market remains sensitive to geopolitical developments and economic trends, which could influence future supply and demand dynamics.

As OPEC+ prepares to unwind some of its production cuts in the coming months, industry observers will be closely monitoring the market’s response.

The gradual phasing out of the cuts is designed to prevent any sudden shocks to the market, allowing for a smoother transition and sustained balance.

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Oil Prices Steady Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty and Middle East Tensions

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Oil prices held firm on Monday as the political uncertainty in the United States and ongoing tensions in the Middle East persist.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced,  fell slightly by 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $84.90 a barrel after a 37-cent drop on Friday.

Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude stood at $82.15 a barrel, down 6 cents, or 0.1%.

The dollar’s strength, which followed a failed assassination attempt on U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exerted some pressure on oil prices.

A stronger dollar typically makes oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies, leading to reduced demand.

“I don’t think you can ignore the uncertainty that the weekend’s assassination attempt will cast across a deeply divided country in the lead-up to the election,” said Tony Sycamore, market analyst at IG.

In the Middle East, efforts to end the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas stalled over the weekend.

Talks were halted after three days, although a Hamas official indicated that the group had not withdrawn from discussions.

The situation escalated further when an Israeli attack targeting a Hamas military leader killed 90 people on Saturday, maintaining the geopolitical premium on oil.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, oil markets remain supported by supply cuts from OPEC+. Iraq’s oil ministry has pledged to compensate for any overproduction since the beginning of the year, reinforcing the market’s stability.

Last week, Brent fell more than 1.7% after four weeks of gains, while WTI futures slid 1.1%. The decline was largely attributed to a fall in China’s crude imports, which countered robust summer consumption in the United States.

“While fundamentals are still supportive, there are growing demand concerns, largely emanating from China,” noted ING analysts led by Warren Patterson.

China’s crude oil imports fell 2.3% in the first half of this year to 11.05 million barrels a day, with disappointing fuel demand and reduced output by independent refiners due to weak profit margins.

Also, crude throughput at Chinese refineries dropped 3.7% in June from a year earlier to 14.19 million barrels per day, marking the lowest level this year, according to customs data.

China’s economy has slowed in the second quarter, weighed down by a protracted property downturn and job insecurity, keeping alive expectations that Beijing will need to implement more stimulus measures.

In the United States, the active oil rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by one to 478 last week, marking the lowest level since December 2021, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes.

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